fbpx

Sports journalist attacked, ruthlessly beaten while covering soccer match

Fear and despair consumed me as they rained down ferocious blows. I felt every painful punch, one after the other. Desperately, I escaped toward the covered sector of the stadium close to the exit, but my action proved in vain. Ten to 15 fans intercepted me and began beating me again.

  • 3 months ago
  • April 22, 2024
6 min read
Ayala is a journalism student who, while interning with the radio and streaming show Jugada Preparada, was violently assaulted by a mass of fans at a professional soccer match he was covering. | Photo courtesy of Mauro Ayala Ayala is a journalism student who, while interning with the radio and streaming show Jugada Preparada, was violently assaulted by a mass of fans at a professional soccer match he was covering. | Photo courtesy of Mauro Ayala
Journalist’s Notes
Interview Subject
Mauro Ayala, a journalism student from the city of Rosario, Argentina, interns with for an on-air program called Jugada Preparada, which is broadcasted via radio and streaming on the channel Plataforma Wox. Mauro is a fan of the Newell’s Old Boys, a soccer team in the Argentinean Professional League, which he was covering the day he was brutally attacked by Newell’s fans.
Background Information
On Sunday, March 3, 2024, violence erupted during a professional soccer match in Argentina between the Newell’s Old Boys club and San Lorenzo at the Marcelo Bielsa Stadium. A paraglider flew over the stadium and dropped a slew of tiny papers containing messages that agitated the Newell’s fans. During the match the Newell’s fans erupted in violence and attacked the journalists’ area. When they approached Mauro Ayala they accused him of conspiring the paraglider because he wasn’t wearing any fear gear. Despite his pleas, they assaulted him repeatedly. According to Firstpost, violence like this is not uncommon. “Violence at games has claimed 157 in Brazil between 2009 and 2019, 136 in Argentina over past 20 years, and 170 in Colombia between 2001 and 2019. England has seen arrests, pitch invasions and hate crimes spike,” according to the article.

ROSARIO, SANTA FE, Argentina ꟷ I left my house early in the morning on March 3, 2024, and walked seven kilometers to the Marcelo Bielsa Stadium in Rosario, feeling immense joy. I was living my dream as an accredited member of the press covering a soccer match within the Argentine Professional Soccer League. As a longtime fan of the Newell’s Old Boys athletic club, it felt like a big step, personally and professionally, to cover them in the career I chose for my life.

I arrived at Parque Independencia to meet my colleagues, feeling equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to serve in the press. My coworkers and I – people I shared hours of study with as a student – collectively faced our first big game together as accredited journalists. We had the responsibility of representing Jugada Preparada, a radio and streaming program.

Read more soccer stories from Orato World Media, or check out these features of journalists from around the globe.

An agitated crowd turns to the press box

When I arrived, the traditional smell of the South American soccer fields ignited my senses, and I knew, this was an important step for the growth of our program. The moment I entered the stadium, I smelled the aroma of choripanes, a specialty, grilled sausage sandwich key to soccer culture in Argentina.

On one hand, I wanted time to pass slowly, so I could enjoy every moment of this new challenge. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait for the match to start. Sitting at my assigned desk, a paraglider flew over the stadium. I looked up and saw thousands of little pieces of paper falling, containing messages meant for the 30,000-plus Newell’s fans filling the seats.

It seemed as though the messages were from people in Rosario Central – a rival of the Newell’s team, who won the classic a week before. I worried about a possible reaction inside the stadium as the atmosphere became tense. While I felt no fear, a strange sensation settled over me.

Before the end of the first half of the match, I noticed some problems starting in the side stands, but I never imagined those problems would reach the press. Then, suddenly, a group of people burst into the press area looking for so-called culprits and accomplices of the paraglider pilot.

They quickly approached me and began complaining that I was not wearing any Newell’s clothing as a fan. I told them, “I’m working,” thinking it would be explanation enough. However, they felt unsatisfied with my response.

Cornered by the crowd, innocent press rep gets brutally beaten

As the angry fans burst into our press area, they stopped asking who we were and became determined to assault us. Bottles and stones began to fly in our direction, and some of the attackers threw fists. While I went into total shock, I reacted quickly when I saw the eruption of violence. I took shelter by climbing some stairs to enter the broadcast booth.

Colleagues from more than 15 media outlets hovered there, broadcasting the match live on radio and television. This area included a corridor about two meters wide and 50 meters long. The fans followed me into the restricted area, which was an unprecedented action.

Three angry fans rushed me, demanding to know why I was not wearing a t-shirt or some kind of identification indicating I was Newell’s fan. I tried to explain, I did follow the local club, but it was my first day working the press and I learned in journalism school, you do not identify your preferences.

They refused my explanation, pushing me all the way down the hall and taking me to the staircase. Fear and despair consumed me as they rained down ferocious blows. I felt every painful punch, one after the other. Desperately, I escaped toward the covered sector of the stadium close to the exit, but my action proved in vain. Ten to 15 fans intercepted me and began beating me again.

One question circulated inside my head while I was conscious enough to think. “Why is this happening to me,” my mind screamed. “What did I do to receive such a beating?” The next thought that came was to protect my work equipment and personal items, which I toiled to obtain. My efforts proved unfruitful, however, as the crowd beat me and stole everything.

After losing consciousness, police find journalist and rush him to an ambulance

When the fans at the soccer match unjustly targeted me as an accomplice to the paraglider, they turned the joy of my first professional press assignment into a tense nightmare. At one point, I remember nine or 10 people beating me at once. I tasted the blood as it filled my mouth while cowards punched me in the face.

At one point, amidst the assault, I heard the police shooting. While it offered a brief window to escape, I suddenly lost consciousness. I remember thinking I just wanted to recover my equipment when everything went dark. Thank goodness the police found me and took me out of the sector. That part of the story remains murky in my memory. I recall the blows raining down, then the officer arriving. After getting me out of the club, the police took me to an ambulance. The doctors reported no life-threatening injuries, thank God.

One of the officers gave me a phone to call my family. Still in shock and trembling, I explained the situation to my parents, making it clear I suffered material losses but no serious medical complications. I did not want them to be scared, but in my current mental state, I apparently explained poorly, and my family became incredibly upset. In desperation, they came looking for me.

When my mother arrived, she saw my bruises, but I could walk and talk, so she breathed a sigh of relief. My dad wrapped me up in a hug, feeling that same relief. It feels fortunate, my parents were able to come, find me, and take me home. I can only imagine if something far more regrettable happened.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

#GlobalCooperationNow

Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.

HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $200 OR MORE

NATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $100-150 OR MORE
REGIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $50-100 OR MORE
SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT STORY: PAYOUT: $25-50
Photo Gallery (10 Photos) PAYOUT: $25
Photo Gallery (20 Photos) PAYOUT: $50

TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY
JOIN US

Related